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Outdated by Canon

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''Who was the mother of Bob?''

The realm of fanfiction is an interesting place. Where canon may be scant with details, fans of a work can take up the task of filling in perceived holes in a story. This may include creating their own characters to flesh out a character's lineage or coming up with reasons why certain ones behave as they do. After all, what if the story never bothers to tell us who the parents of the protagonist were? Or the deal behind that guy with the cool name who's always mentioned but never shown? If one of these fan works becomes popular enough, it will spread across the community and its ideas become an accepted fact of the show/book/movie's lore. Or mocked, due to the quality of the fic. Either way, these questions raised by the canon work which the fans latched onto haven't been answered and never will be, so fans are free to continue playing with them... right?


Outdated by Canon is a form of Jossed concerning how fan works (and the theories backing them) can be made invalid by revelations in the canon product; specifically in regards to characterization. For example, a fanfic writer might decide that Bob's unseen mother is a Retired Badass who instilled and promoted Bob's own thirst for adventure. This fanfic becomes popular and soon the entire fandom chooses this as their fanon, with other fanfics following suit. Various stories are made about Bob's mom teaching him how to fight, or giving him hero advice, or even coming out of retirement to help Bob and his friends stop the Big Bad. Then several installments later, when the creators of the canon work finally take us to Bob's childhood home to meet his mom, it turns out she's an overprotective woman who's terrified of even leaving her house. These fan works are now outdated pieces of media that have been entirely discredited, leaving future fans who find them wondering why an old fic they just stumbled upon has Bob's mom threatening to punch out an eldritch abomination instead of fainting at the sight of one.


The earlier the fanwork was made in the life of the work that inspired it, the more likely it will be hit by this trope: after all, the beginning of a work is when the audience has the least understanding of the world they've been presented with, increasing the chance of early theories being jossed.

Also a specific form of Canon Foreigner, O.C. Stand-in, and Hilarious in Hindsight. Some fans may invoke Better Than Canon and Fanon Discontinuity, especially if one specific character interpretation was popular with the community because that version was well-written or served as great eye-candy. Often the result of an Unknown Character finally getting revealed.

This is only a trope applicable to fan works, any licensed examples fall into the Canon Discontinuity or What If? scenarios. Part of Time Marches On. See also Resolved Noodle Incident. Contrast Ascended Fanon or I Knew It!, where the popular fanfic interpretation ends up being part of canon either because of its popularity with fans or because that was always the plan.


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General examples:

    Anime and Manga 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars:
    • The original movies never depicted Princess Leia's adoptive parents, so many fanfic writers depicted them as somewhat absent or abusive, considering her lack of reaction to their (presumed) deaths when Alderaan exploded. The radio drama and later the prequel movies went into more detail about her adoptive father, Bail Organa, and he turned out to be a decent person and a loving father. Likewise, the radio drama never discussed her mother, and she was only briefly shown at the end of Revenge of the Sith. EU materials never seemed to agree on when she died, so a lot of fans assumed she died when Leia was relatively young and didn't have an active role in her life or the Rebellion. Fanfic generally killed her off or wrote her as very sickly and close to death. Then several Disney-era materials came out, and to many's surprise, Queen Breha was an alive and healthy leader who was also very involved in the Rebellion.
    • Concerning Rey's parentage:
      • It was often assumed to be Han and Leia and Rey was theorized to be a reference to Breha (pronounced bray-ha.) Most fanfiction written before The Last Jedi took this as fact. When Rey turned out to not be related to Leia at all, it nullified a lot of fan works.
      • It was also popular for Rey to be Luke's daughter, hidden on Jakku after Ben Solo's fall to the Dark Side and the destruction of the new Jedi academy. It certainly didn't hurt that Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber was calling out to her in Maz's castle.
    • Prior to the prequel trilogy being released, stories dealing with the rise of the Empire and how Anakin Skywalker fell to the dark side were common.

  • Harry Potter: Blaise Zabini was mentioned only as a name in the first sorting being put in Slytherin. This led to speculation from fans about him and what race and gender he was, which led to him basically being an O.C. Stand-in. His revelation in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as a black boy came as a surprise to many.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls fandom experiences this when it comes to Game Mods, especially ones which add new regions or other races which haven't previously appeared in the series. The Elder Scrolls Online has been one of the biggest offenders in this regard, as it is the first Elder Scrolls game since Arena in which the vast majority of Tamriel can be visited. Naturally, Online has been a big source of Fanon Discontinuity for this reason (as well as simply for being an Oddball in the Series MMORPG in an otherwise Wide Open Sandbox Western RPG series written and developed by a different team than the other Elder Scrolls games).
  • Katawa Shoujo gives us Hanako's route. Thanks to the first part of their story being released years before the rest of it, a huge and extremely dedicated fandom sprung up around it before anybody really knew anything about the actual story or characters. Hanako is one of the characters hit worse by this, with a huge amount of the game's fanfiction concerning the character having her as a Fragile Flower and Broken Bird who latches onto anyone who gives her a token bit of comfort and tells her how pretty she really is. When the rest of the visual novel came out, we learn that, while she's normally too shy to say it directly, Hanako absolutely hates being constantly treated by everyone like a broken thing, in need of constant coddling and protection by them.
  • Pokémon:
    • Whenever a new Pokémon is revealed, fans will often create fan-made predictions for what that Pokémon will evolve into or evolved from. Naturally, these end up pretty outdated once the evolution(s) (or even no evolutionary relatives at all) for said Pokémon are revealed. The ones that get hit with this the hardest are the Starter Pokémon. A quick google search will often pull up fan art for a specific starter's evolution going all the way back to the 2000s. A lot of the time they end up being "a bigger version" of said starter and look nothing like the actual fully evolved form.
    • Oh boy, the Ultra Beasts. When UB-01 was first revealed, many people noticed its visual similarity to Lillie, a character that was revealed for Pokémon Sun and Moon a few weeks earlier, and a theory started to surface that UB-01 was Lillie. This theory that the Ultra Beasts were otherworldly Pokémon disguising themselves as human only strengthened with the reveal of each new Ultra Beast, with people swearing that the appearance of every Ultra Beast matched that of a previously revealed character. Tons of fanart and fanfiction ensued. However, once the game actually came out, it was revealed that Lillie’s mother Lusamine intentionally dressed her daughter like UB-01 because she was unhealthily obsessed with it, and all the other Ultra Beasts had nothing to do with the characters in the game they were compared to.
  • Splatoon 2:
    • Many fan works during the first year of the game's life revolved around Inklings being prejudiced towards Marina or Marina initially having to hide her identity as an Octarian. This was before the Octo Expansion campaign gave players the revelation that, due to the species not interacting with any regularity for over a century, most Inklings literally didn't notice that Marina wasn't an Inkling; they just thought she had a unique hairstyle.
    • Splatoon 2 supplementary material notes that Callie's parents are alive and present in her life, putting a dent in the fanon that Callie and Marie were raised together by their grandfather.

    Web Comics 
  • Before Act 6 of Homestuck, when the guardians were all The Voiceless, their personalities were pretty up for grabs. One popular interpretation of Bro, in particular, was that he would be a homophobic straight dude obsessed with being cool, usually serving as an obstruction to Dave coming to terms with being gay. This was all rendered completely non-canon in Act 6 when we get to meet a younger, alternate universe version of Bro, who is not only gay himself, but pretty chill about it.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • Many fanfics depicted Weiss' mother as dead and Blake as a street orphan. Volume 4 revealed that Weiss' mother is alive (albeit a distant Alcoholic Parent), while Blake has two loving parents and is actually from an affluent family.
    • The first two trailers, Red and White, focused on showing off the fighting choreography rather than any actual characterization. As a result, Ruby and Weiss were mistaken by fans to be stoic individuals with Sugar And Ice Personalities. In canon, Ruby is an optimistic Genki Girl while Weiss is a Academic Alpha Bitch who loosens up as time goes on. The reason behind Weiss's sad theme song "Mirror Mirror" wasn't given until Volume 4, when we see her home life back in Atlas.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • With the exception of Pinkie Pie's and Twilight Sparkle's parents (who were both shown in season one's "The Cutie Mark Chronicles") the parents of the Mane Six were the subject of many, often wildly different interpretations by the fans. In particular, it was common to depict the G1 pony Firefly as Rainbow Dash's mother (since the former was the inspiration for the latter). The show would gradually invalidate all of these interpretations over the course of its many seasons. note 
    • Nearly every fic involving Princess Luna that was written before season 2 fell into this, as she had exactly one very brief scene in the first season. The fanbase quickly came to the consensus that Luna was a Shrinking Violet woobie who was too shy or afraid to come out in public. Then season two introduced her properly, blasting that interpretation to pieces as she turned out to be a major Large Ham with No Indoor Voice whose biggest problem was learning to not accidentally terrify everyone around her.
    • Diamond Tiara's mother was usually written as her deceased Good Parent Morality Pet. This was before Spoiled Rich was revealed to be very much alive and be emotionally abusive.
  • The South Park episode "Tweek x Craig" made the eponymous Fan-Preferred Couple jump from a Ship That Passes in the Night to a full-on Official Couple, invalidating most if not all of the many fics about the couple that inspired said episode, which often had them hook up in their teens after a Time Skip. Furthermore, it wasn't uncommon to see the ship portrayed as anything from Slap-Slap-Kiss to Craig being an outright Bastard Boyfriend, due to their only significant interaction before "Tweek x Craig" came out being a fight. Their canon relationship turned out to be a perfectly stable and loving one, with any conflict between the two generally arising from Craig's stoic, logical nature clashing with Tweek's emotional one rather than any real antagonism.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Steven Universe gave us an interesting variation thanks to Pink Diamond. Many fan fics released before Season 3 portrayed Rose Quartz as being Pink Diamond (whose existence was only implied at that point), having changed her name during the Crystal Gem Rebellion. Then "Back to the Moon" came out and revealed that Rose shattered Pink, invalidating those fan fics, but inspiring a bunch of fics which portrayed the shattering in question. Only for season five's "The Trial" to conclude that given the circumstances, it was highly unlikely that Rose Quartz actually did it, invalidating those fics and leading to ones portraying the actual perpetrator as either Pearl or Yellow Diamond. This all culminated in "A Single Pale Rose" several episodes later, which invalidated those by revealing that she wasn't shattered at all. Pink Diamond and Rose Quartz really were the same person, with Pearl aiding in the ruse. This effectively re-validated many of those early fanfics (and vindicated writers who stuck with the theory throughout the mystery arc).
    • Prior to her expanded characterization in season 2, fanworks of Lapis Lazuri tended to portray her as either an energetic Genki Girl or a constantly depressed woobie. While her canon portrayal does have shades of both depending on her mood, she's generally more of a Deadpan Snarker who holds a bitter grudge towards... everyone other than Steven, really.
    • Prior to the extended intro, fans assumed that Steven was raised by the Crystal Gems from day one. It was later shown that Greg raised Steven, and that he had only begun living with the Gems full-time shortly before the events of the series.

Specific examples:

    Anime & Manga 

    Films - Animation 

  • Harry Potter: Before Order of the Phoenix came out, most everyone assumed that Ginny Weasley's proper name was Virginia (for a notable example, see The Very Secret Diary). Rowling announced in an interview that Ginny's name is actually Ginevra, and this was later written into the final book, but many volumes of Virginia fanfic still lurk in the old corners of the fandom.
  • The long gap between the release of the ninth and tenth Haruhi Suzumiya light novels naturally encouraged this, particularly since the ninth novel ended on a Cliffhanger:
    • For the first nine light novels, the only time anyone’s parents are ever mentioned is Kyon making an offhand reference to his mother, who never appears herself. In addition, the long gap between the release of the ninth and tenth novels inspired quite a volume of fanfiction, one of which is Meet The Suzumiyas, in which Kyon winds up living with Haruhi, and has to deal with her parents: her father, Oruki, is an Overprotective Dad with a Hair-Trigger Temper, and her mother, Naru, is a Cloudcuckoolander and Supreme Chef—essentially, Haruhi’s character traits are split between her parents instead of the reverse. This fanfic was quite popular and other authors came to use this interpretation of Haruhi’s parents and even their names, and it might have ended there were it not for Haruhi’s briefly mentioning her mother in the tenth book. From her description, she is a career woman who can’t cook, meaning that Naru, at least, is totally inaccurate.
    • More significantly, novel nine has a scene in which Kyon receives a phone call from a girl he doesn’t know, but she calls him “senpai” and talks as though she knows him, before hanging up in frustration. The fanfic Kyon: Big Damn Hero wasted no time in giving her a name (Michikyuu Kanae) and making her a slider with a Dark and Troubled Past who joins the SOS Brigade and interacts normally with the other characters. When book ten was actually released, it turned out that the girl is named Watahashi Yasumi and isn’t a slider at all, or even a person. She is nothing more than a creation of Haruhi’s subconscious whose sole purpose is to arrange things so that the villains don’t win. Once her purpose has been fulfilled, she vanishes.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • The Loud House:
    • The fanfic What is a Person Worth? has Mr. Santiago (Bobby and Ronnie Anne's father) as a character. The fic began before episodes like "Shell Shock" and "The Loudest Mission: Relative Chaos" made it clear that he is no longer around in the show itself (though what exactly became of him is still a mystery).
      • Speaking of "The Loudest Mission: Relative Chaos", the fic has the Santiago's still living in Royal Woods rather than move to another city like they did in the aforementioned episode.
    • A similar situation can be found in Requiem for a Loud, in which Bobby and Ronnie Anne's mother has passed away two years before the story, and their father is now their sole parent. This part of the story was written before it became clear that in the show itself, the situation is the exact opposite.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The plot of fanfic Dash's New Mom centers around Rainbow Dash's widower father getting a new girlfriend, and Rainbow's reaction to the event. After the fanfic's completion, "Parental Glideance" revealed that both of Rainbow's parents were still alive.
    • Claro de Luna was written prior to "Luna Eclipsed" and depicts Luna as a slightly shy, adorkable mare with a short mane (like her season 1 design). It also features ponies that age like actual horses instead of comparable to humans.
    • Strangers features an older Sweetie Belle. It predates Sweetie getting her Cutie Mark and thus it uses her G3 mark instead of her canon G4 one.
    • Lullaby for a Princess depicts Celestia versus Nightmare Moon. It was animated prior to the official version and deviates in many manners. For example, Celestia had a pink mane in the animation that changed colours upon using the Elements of Harmony, but in canon Celestia had her current mane even back then. The fight is also more action packed and dramatic than the official portrayal. Celestia breaks out in tears at the end of the battle. In canon, Celestia does shed tears but it's a far more subdued reaction than in Lullaby for a Princess.
  • The webcomic Grim Tales from Down Below, a crossover series between many cartoons created Chi: the daughter of Aku from Samurai Jack. Born from him thanks to Voluntary Shapeshifting, she's a Cute Monster Girl with lesbian undertones (due to Author Appeal) that can be described as Aku as a cute girl, bringing the best out of him. In 2017, Samurai Jack returned for one more season, featuring Ashi, the actual daughter of Aku: a Dark Action Girl born as a member of the Daughters of Aku, a team of assassins who served an Aku-worshiping cult and Jack's eventual Love Interest. And while she does have Aku's powers, she is not a Daddy's Little Villain, as he wasn't even aware she existed and both see each other as enemies. And Aku didn't give birth to anyone.
  • The Voltron: Legendary Defender fanfic series Voltron Duality gave Pidge and Matt's mother the name Karen, before Word of God revealed that her name was Colleen.